Belfast to build zero emissions ferries following £60m funding boost

  • A Belfast maritime consortium led by Artemis Technologies has won a £33m UK government innovation grant to develop zero emissions ferries in the city.

    These ferries will aim to revolutionise the future of maritime transport. With further investment from consortium partners, the total project investment will reach close to £60m over the next four years, creating an initial 125 research and development jobs, and leading to more than 1,000 in the region over the next 10 years.

    The 13-partner syndicate is the only Northern Irish or maritime recipient of the UK Research and Innovation flagship Strength in Places Fund.

    A spin-off from the America’s Cup sailing team, Artemis Racing, Artemis Technologies is led by double Olympic gold medallist Iain Percy OBE.

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    Iain said: “When we launched Artemis Technologies, we decided to base ourselves in Belfast because of the incredible aerospace and composite engineering talent available.

    “Belfast’s local expertise coupled with the city’s rich shipbuilding heritage, and our own America’s Cup yacht design experience, will ensure Belfast is the global lead in zero emissions maritime technology.

    “For years, we’ve been designing low energy, high performance solutions for some of the fastest yachts on the planet, and we will now utilise that knowledge, and along with our partners, apply it to build the world's most environmentally friendly high-speed ferries, capable of carrying up to 350 passengers.

    “Our concept for an electric hydrofoil propulsion system is totally unique and will enable vessels of the future to operate with up to 90% less energy and produce zero emissions during operation.

    “As cities across the world seek ways to reduce pollution and ease traffic congestion, the transformative vessels to be produced right here in Belfast, will have a global role to play in delivering the connected maritime transport system of the future.

    “This investment from the UKRI Strength in Places Fund is a major endorsement of what we are trying to achieve, which we strongly believe will see Northern Ireland at the centre of the revolution in water transport.”


    Artemis Technologies is led by double Olympic gold medallist Iain Percy OBE

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    First Minister Arlene Foster welcome the announcement, saying: “We are all proud of Belfast’s maritime and shipbuilding heritage. However, it is even more exciting to look towards a future which can see Northern Ireland once again leading the way with world-class manufacturing and cutting-edge technology.

    “I pay tribute to all those involved in the project which demonstrates so clearly the benefits of collaboration between business, academia and government at all levels. This investment can support economic growth locally, but its impact could be felt globally through solutions to more sustainable transport.”

    The Belfast consortium brings together a range of established and young firms, academia and public bodies, including: Belfast Harbour, Bombardier Belfast, Northern Ireland Advanced Composites Engineering (NIACE), Creative Composites, Energia, Catalyst, Invest Northern Ireland, Ulster University, Belfast Met, Queen’s University, Belfast, Ards and North Down Borough Council, and Belfast City Council.

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    Research England’s Executive Chair, David Sweeney, who leads the Strength in Places Fund, said: “UK Research and Innovation’s flagship Strength in Places Fund is distinctive in specifically targeting investment to foster the local research and innovation ecosystems that can support sustained growth.

    “All of these projects have the potential to deliver research and innovation that will transform activity within their target industries, in a way that is deeply rooted in local strengths and well linked to wider local economic plans.

    “And, with a second wave of Strength in Places funding already in the pipeline, we look forward to broadening the reach of that impact to further projects in other areas of the country in future.”

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    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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